The Tokyo Organising Committee of Tokyo 2020 has unveiled the official sports pictograms of the next Olympic Games.
Created by Japanese designer Masaaki Hiromura, the pictograms embody the uniqueness and athleticism of each sport, and highlight the dynamism of athletes.
They were designed in line with Tokyo 2020’s theme, “Innovation from Harmony”, while drawing inspiration from the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964, when pictograms were first introduced at the Olympics.
Hiromura led a team of designers on the project, which took almost two years to complete. With 33 sports on the Tokyo 2020 programme, some sports have more than one pictogram, totalling 50 designs all together.
It is generally agreed that Olympic Games pictograms were really first introduced in 1964, in Tokyo.
But Markus Osterwalder of the International Society of Olympic Historians explains:
Creating symbols which are not letters but graphic illustrations that everyone can understand goes back much further than that. I’ve found small pictograms that were at the Games in Stockholm in 1912, Paris in 1924, and other Games after that.
I’ve found small pictograms that were at the Games in Stockholm in 1912, Paris in 1924, and other Games after that; but they did not yet offer that very simple and clear view that we know today.
For the Swiss Olympic design historian . . . the first use of pictograms was to give people a message, without their having to read anything. To go to the Olympic Park or the various venues, and say, ah right, there’s the press room, there’s such-and-such a venue, etc.
Moreover, those from the 1960s to the 1980s were purely informative, nothing more. And then that changed. They became part of the heritage, the Look of the Games and the commercial programme.